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Riviera Travel unveils ESG commitments; river cruise business in full flow

PHOTO: Mary Bond CRUISE_Riveira_Travel.jpg
Doing the right thing: Riviera Travel's CEO Phil Hullah and marketing director Sarah Fowler
UK river cruise and escorted touring specialist Riviera Travel announced a series of environmental, social and governance aims and initiatives at a media event Tuesday evening in London.

The pledges, highlighted in a plan named ‘Doing the right thing,' start with immediate effect and cover four primary pillars: sustainability, managing carbon footprint, operating ethically and charitable contributions.

Wherever possible, Riviera has set measurable goals to ensure it can track and report on progress. They include reducing guests’ carbon footprint by 20% by 2028, which will be measured on a per customer, per night basis across each holiday category. This will be achieved by actions including increasing rail travel options on existing holidays and using greener energy sources on its river ships.

As well, the company's strengthened supplier ethics policy and sustainability checklist covers measures such as labour standards, human rights, animal welfare and renewable energy. All suppliers will be asked to agree to and implement these measures when working with Riviera; halving the use of plastic and paper by 2025 by better using technology and establishing a new partnership with the charity Practical Action and committing to raise significant funds by donating £1 per guest booked from 2024 onwards, as well as encouraging guest, staff and company donations.

Practical Action

Practical Action is an international development organisation, which works with communities to develop solutions for agriculture, water and waste management, climate resilience and clean energy.

Riviera's contributions will kick-start a new project aimed at cleaning up rivers and reducing waste hotspots in Kenya. The initiative will improve the pay and conditions for 100 workers, while removing 67 tonnes of plastic from the environment every year.

Phil Hullah, Riviera Travel CEO, said: ‘The team at Riviera are committed to sustainable, ethical and responsible travel. With the launch of our new plan, we will start the next phase of our journey, the aim being to ensure that Riviera, our partners and our peers “do the right thing” in every way we can. We have chosen Practical Action as a new charity partner due to their alignment with our values and the impactful and exciting projects they have in the pipeline.’

Hullah said, ‘we do not claim to have all of the answers, or to be the finished article yet, our ESG initiatives and aims are statements of where we hope to get to in the future. We are excited and determined to deliver on all of them, and plan to work collaboratively and openly with others in the industry to bring about wider change.’

39 years of trading

Riviera has been curating and delivering holidays for the UK & Ireland source market for 39 years. Using mainly full river, and sometimes partial ocean, ship charters its inclusive river cruise programme across Europe’s rivers, as well as the Nile and Mekong, are culturally-focussed and include at least one shore excursion per day, explained Sarah Fowler, marketing director of Riviera Travel on the sidelines of the media briefing.

The company has long term charter agreements with Scylla for 11 river cruise ships and operates late March through to early November plus festive Christmas markets cruises ‘which are  extremely popular with 2023 on track to sell out and we have already launched 2024 sales early due to demand’ said Fowler.

Also popular on the river cruise business is Porto-Porto sailings on the Douro and ‘we are adding more ships next year.’

The company also sells small ship ocean cruising with Star Clippers and yachting holidays on ships up to 20 cabins in Croatian waters, as well as guided group land tours.

'Pre-pandemic we carried 100,000 holidaymakers a year and expect to be back to these numbers by 2025 whilst revenues are already exceeding pre-covid levels due to a strategic change in our product range moving to higher value cruise holidays and longer guided tours ,' commented Fowler.